Food safety is the safe handling and preparation of food. Maintaining healthy food safety practices is important because young children are one of the highest risk groups for foodborne illness. With the COVID-19 pandemic, some are concerned about food and food packaging as a route of transmission. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) at this time there is no evidence of transmission of COVID-19 through food, food packaging, or grocery bags (6/25/2020). The risk of becoming sick with COVID-19 from handling food or food packaging is thought to be very low. However, safe food handling practices should always be taken.
FOOD SAFETY PRINCIPLES
Principle 1: Clean
Wash hands, surfaces, and utensils frequently
- Wash hands with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds.
- Disinfect “high-touch” surfaces like doorknobs, table surfaces, and kitchen countertops frequently.
- Thoroughly clean all surfaces and utensils that have touched raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs with soapy water.
Principle 2: Separate
Don’t cross-contaminate food and cooking surfaces
- Use separate utensils and cutting boards for produce, ready-to-eat foods, raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs.
- Use separate plates and bowls for raw and cooked foods.
- Store raw meat, poultry, and seafood in a leak-proof container on the lowest level of your refrigerator.
Principle 3: Cook
Cook foods to the appropriate temperature
Minimum internal temperatures for common meats
Whole cuts of pork, beef, veal, and lamb (plus a 3-minute rest)
Fish (or until the flesh is opaque and flakes easily with a fork.)
Ground beef, pork, veal, lamb, and eggs (or until the yolk and egg white are firm)
Ground poultry and whole cut poultry
- Keep hot foods above 140ºF after cooking
- Reheat leftovers to 165ºF
What is the danger zone?
The danger zone is the temperature range between 40ºF and 140ºF where bacteria that cause foodborne illness to grow quickly.
Principle 4: Chill
Chill, refrigerate and freeze food properly
- Avoid the temperature danger zone. Refrigerate leftovers and perishable foods within 2 hours.
- Keep the refrigerator at 40ºF or below and the freezer at 0ºF or below. Use a refrigerator thermometer for the most accurate reading.
Washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is an effective way to lessen the risk of spreading diseases. Hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol may be used if soap and water are not available. Practice washing hands with children to promote healthy hand hygiene.
Handwashing should occur:
- Before meals and snacks
- Before, during, and after preparing food
- After handling raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs
- Before and after tending to a wound
- Before and after caring for a sick person
- After using the toilet
- After touching or tending to a pet
- After coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose
- After touching garbage
- After changing a diaper or helping a child use the toilet
Wet hands with warm water and lather with soap.
Scrub all surfaces of the hands including palms, back of hands, between the fingers, under fingernails, and wrists for at least 20 seconds.
Rinse hands under warm, running water.
Dry hands using a disposable paper towel or cloth.
Consider having separate drying cloths for each child labeled with their name.
There are plenty of tunes to teach our youngest learners proper handwashing techniques. Providers from all over are teaching hand hygiene using songs like “Happy Birthday”, the alphabet, and even “Baby Shark”. Here are some other songs our providers are using:
To the tune of Row Your Boat:
Wash, wash, wash your hands
Get them nice and clean
Scrub them here
Scrub them there
Scrub them in between
To the tune of Splish Splash:
Splish, splash I was washin’ my hands.
There was a splishin’ and a splashin’
Reelin’ with the feelin’,
Movin’ and groovin’.
SAFE GROCERY SHOPPING
- Reduce the amount of trips and time spent in the grocery store as much as possible.
- Utilize non-contact grocery pickup or delivery if feasible.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a mask. Avoid close physical contact while at the store maintaining at least 6 feet apart from others outside of your household.
- Wash your hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds after returning from the grocery store and putting groceries away.
HANDLING FOOD & FOOD PACKAGING
- It is not recommended to use disinfectants made for hard surfaces like bleach and ammonia on food packaging.
- Produce should be washed under cool running water. Soap, bleach, alcohol, or any other disinfectant chemical should not be used to wash produce.
- Use a produce brush to scrub the exterior of fruits and vegetables with hard skin such as melons, sweet potatoes, and potatoes even if you do not plan to eat the skin.
- The use of vinegar, salt, lemon juice, or lime juice to wash produce has not been shown to be effective in removing germs from produce.
In accordance with federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity. Program information may be made available in languages other than English. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication to obtain program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language), should contact the responsible state or local agency that administers the program or USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TTY) or contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. To file a program discrimination complaint, a Complainant should complete a Form AD-3027, USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form which can be obtained online at: https://www.usda.gov/sites/ default/files/documents/USDA-OASCR%20P-Complaint-Form-0508-0002-508-11-28-17Fax2Mail.pdf, from any USDA office, by calling (866) 632-9992, or by writing a letter addressed to USDA. The letter must contain the complainant’s name, address, telephone number, and a written description of the alleged discriminatory action in sufficient detail to inform the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights (ASCR) about the nature and date of an alleged civil rights violation. The completed AD-3027 form or letter must be submitted to USDA by: (1) mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights 1400 Independence Avenue, SW Washington, D.C. 20250-9410; or (2) fax:(833) 256-1665 or (202) 690-7442; (3) or email:email@example.com.